An Unpublished Author’s Check List Re: Author Shawna Romkey’s post

As I read Author Shawna Romkey’s latest blog post (found here I thought – OMG!  I feel pressure from reading that.


The next thought I had was – I’m a *little* different as I’m unpublished.


1.  Write.  This is the most important one for an unpublished author IMHO.  Not only do you need to practice the craft of writing and take workshops offered through a writing group like Romance Writers of America ( but you need to keep writing after the first manuscript is done.  Why?  So you’re writing can improve and so when you pitch an agent or editor you have a backup when they ask “What else are you working on?”  Also, markets change for books each year.  One manuscript may not sell but the other one might.


2.  Read.  My recommendations are:  (A) Read in your genre.   (B) Read books to help you write such as “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler.  Pick up books or workshops online/offline on grammar, beginnings, middles, ends, story, dialogue…Another great book is “Goal, Motivation and Conflict.”


3.  Listen.  Find at least one critique partner.  Someone you trust to read your book (not rewrite it) and give commentary on story and grammar.  Or, find an editor and pay them to read your work plus provide a copy edit or a story edit.   I use Angel Editing  but there are others.  Nancy Cassidy has The Red Pen Coach at  and I haven’t used her but it’s a great place to start as she’s also an author under the name Lilly Cain and a member of my writing group.  Be prepared to mentally argue every point but reliquinsh your hold on your novel as a pristine object.  It’s time to dig in and think about the changes they all suggest.  Grammar has to be done.  Story has to unfold.  Your work can only get better.


4.  Travel.  Or enter contests or check out Savvy Authors  I travel to conferences to pitch my work to people I won’t be able to see and to get around being in the slush pile.  However, I also recently just entered three contests to have my work judged by editors/agents/writers to see if there’s a new suggestion I can use and see how I do.  Check out this article written by an agent  and realize that while this process is daunting to you it is also daunting to the people in the industry but they tackle new submissions with what fits them.  Your work may not fit an agent or editor.  Have a cry and move on to submitting it to someone it might fit.  But keep submitting!


5.  Make your promo list now.  You have the time and energy.  Local media, online media, radio/tv/paper, reviewers, giveaways…  Start with your calendar and learn what the peak times are for your genre.  If you know where your book will enter the market start searching and making friends on Facebook/Twitter/Blogs.  You’ll need another author’s promo on your published work and it’s easier to do it if you’ve had a conversation with that author.  Plus, for my genre, there’s outfits like Author Buzz and Eye on Romance that have specific databases that let you in to a world you can’t get into yourself:  reaching The Reader.   Also, check out Goodreads if you haven’t already.


6.  Write some more.  Use Twitter’s #1K1HR for support as you slave over your computer hoping for the best possible outcome for your unpublished work.


7.  Let yourself refresh each day with something you enjoy.  This “writing thing” that your family labels for you is a long process.  I’ve heard authors at conferences speak about the length of time it took to find an agent or editor – some are 2 months and others are 3 years.  Do not give up but treat yourself to do something besides staring at the rejection letters.  You’ll need to re-energize once a day.  Listen to music with a candle or watch a movie.  Go for a walk.

  And sometimes you just need a little wine…



Disneyland, Laguna Beach and #RWA12


Over the past week I enjoyed a trip to Calgary, Alberta for my Grandmother Clem Woods’ memorial and then I was whisked away by WestJet to California.


Oh, California!  What a great time!


First off, I arrived a day early so that I had plenty of time to figure out the hotel and get situated before thousands of writers (published and unpublished) descended upon Anaheim, California for Romance Writers of America 2012 Conference.  I also visited the pool and beat away children from my seat.  How dare they try to have a good time in the world of Disneyland!  LOL.  That was my pool chair, dammit.


Next, I ran into writer Nikki McIntosh from my RWA chapter in Atlantic Canada randomly near the hotel Lobby.  We made plans for supper the next day – Cheesecake Factory baby!  And it was awesome.


Wednesday I caught the bus to Disneyland (could’ve walked) and ran around taking pics before the major crowds occurred plus bought some souvenirs.  Then, I splurged on a cab to visit Laguna Beach.  Y’know.  Where they filmed The Hills?!  I had the best lunch at BJs at Laguna Beach and did some major beach sitting as close to the Lifeguard station as I could.  He was a hottie.


Nikkie McIntosh and Donna Alward were up for awards.  Nikki for the Golden Heart and Donna for the Rita.  (See pics below).


Here are their Facebook pages for you to “like”



I’m sad to say these two great writers did not win.  However, like I said to Nikki they were stars among thousands of entries and would always have the honour of being nominated plus bonding with their other award nominees.


I went to workshops, I pitched to two agents and two editors and I had the best time!  I also tweeted like crazy with the #RWA12 because there was so much going on I felt like I was double booked.  And I have to say, the line up for the Kensington signing didn’t warn me that by the time Nikki and I got there 20 mins after they opened that there would be no books.  We managed to grab advanced reading copies of Victoria Alexander’s new book which I had signed for my Aunts in Calgary, Alberta.  Victoria Alexander was so gracious!


If I go to the next one I’ll bring a Fed Ex box with me.  All those free books would’ve compromised my weight at the luggage scale at WestJet so I shipped quite a few back.


And, I managed to plop down bookmarks in the Goodie room and was happy to see the pile reduced by the end of the day each day.


Had a blast.  Made new friends.  Secured books.  What more could you ask for? Oh, right… that publishing contract.  😉


Trindiebooks in the Goodie Room at RWA 12

Pitches waiting area for Agents and Editors

Line up for Kensington Authors SigningOther part of the Kensington Author line up

20 mins after Kensington Author Signing opened its doors

Nikki's Nomination

Donna's nomination


Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: From good to great!


I was skeptical when I heard about this film.  After all, you could say the most revered president’s image was being tarnished into a paranormal or horror punching bag.


Then I saw the film.   OMG.   It was soooo good!


What we know about this president tied in seamlessly with what we need to discover on how he took on a vampire nation fighting him for control of the entire USA at the time.  His personal losses fit in neatly with the vampire legend.


Also, these vampires do not sparkle.  They are horrific and scary as hell.  They are ruthless and physically strong.  How will he ever win?


With a little help from a history we can only imagine and the grace of the ideal nation he does win.  He wins the nation and ends slavery.  He doesn’t do this overnight and the film shows the passage of time, the rhetoric, the beliefs that he has plus the gruesome battle of Gettysburg.


Props to the cinematographer for not dropping my attention to the film – Caleb Deschanel.


Three writers: Julia Phillips Smith, Shawna Romkey and Taryn Blackthorne

This photo is the early morning view at the White Point Cottage for RWAC Annual Retreat




As part of my RWAC membership I have the opportunity to brush elbows with other authors.  I am choosing these three writers to focus on today because they have given me encouragement, hope and laughter over the past few years.


1.  Julia Phillips Smith


Her latest novel, Bound by Dragonsfyre, contains nobility, intrigue and action.  Without a doubt one of the most polished works I’ve had the opportunity to read from this author.  Making the book trailer for her with photographer Caroline Ruyle was a great accomplishment and with model/actor Bobby Rossong’s help Julia was able to pull together what she wanted. *Note to self – unsharpened swords are still sharp.  Thanks to Darksword Armory we had an authentic Norman Sword to use.  And I now have manacles in my small studio to use.  For what, you ask?  That’s top secret.

You can find Julia at @apieceofmymind on Twitter  and on Pinterest at


2.  Shawna Romkey


Shawna has evolved from being a writer hoping to be published (le sigh) to someone with an awesome book coming out with Crescent Moon Press this Fall.  Working with her at Charlie Mac Media has been rewarding and helped put the fun back into my job.  We worked with author Jennie Marsland to bring sales for her book and helped this published author get into bookstores and independent stores with her self published title “Shattered.”  Not to mention media interviews, blog tours and a piece in the regional paper on her book plus a signing at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.  When Shawna wants something she goes after it.  I usually curl up under the covers first and then come out with a strategy.

Shawna also runs Trindiebooks – a Kobo site for authors and I believe she still has a few free spots available for authors.

Find Shawna at @sromkey and @trindiebooks on Twitter.  Pinterest?


3.  Taryn Blackthrone


Taryn came to me looking for a critique partner.  I tend to get gushy when I love something I read and this is what happened with her last WIP.  I haven’t heard from her since.   LOL.  Her story “Even for Me” published by Samhain Publishing was a fantastic read that had me guessing on the mystery it gave the reader.  Which is hard to do with me.  Usually I have it figured out.  I’m looking forward to her new work when it comes out and I want to thank her for the book “The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction.”  She’s a great writer and fantastic addition to our RWAC group.  Love her boards on Pinterest.

Find Taryn on Twitter at @tarynblackthorn  and  Pinterest at








For a little bit more on Robert Lantos’ background:


I also quoted Robert Lantos as stating “if you want to do a Canadian Film in Canada right now you must be crazy” (based on his previous discussion about Canadian broadcasters not showing Canadian films in primetime in contrast to other countries).


So, I’m done.


I now turn my attention to the income I received and needed when there is no consistent work in the film industry – Fifth Avenue Collection.


I am your Fifth Avenue Collection Independent Jeweller and I am now full time.  This career allows me to continue my novel writing and provides me with the safety and security of owning my own business with a consistent paycheque.  Here are some pics from some of the experts at Fifth Avenue Collection that share their experiences and provide knowledge to the jewellers every year.


Gwen Greenstock after her presentation on Retirees

Joanne during her presentation on "Shut up and Drive"

Dale and Betty discuss how they got into jewellery

This purse is to a hostess if she exceeds a certain show amount ends August 2012


Guest Julia Phillips Smith: Dragonsfyre Trilogy

Author Julia Phillips Smith has released her second book. The first in the Dragonsfyre Trilogy called: Bound by Dragonsfyre.  Check out her website at


The book can be found on Amazon



Julia says:

The fun of being an indie author doesn’t stop at writing books that are all books of the heart. An enormous source of fun for me is working on the book covers.

For book one of my new dark fantasy Dragonsfyre series, my producer and I hired a local model to portray my main character Scorpius for both the book cover and book trailer.

I set to work procuring clothing from thrift stores which my mom reworked into the costumes I designed. As always happens, the preparation for the shooting day took weeks, while the shoot itself took only hours. Yet everything fell into place.

It’s such an incredible thrill to have the physical embodiment of a character who has lived only in my mind’s eye suddenly appear in 3D before me. I look forward to that moment for all my future indie releases with breathless anticipation.



Here’s the hook:

No one is safe when the dragon glides low over the Eighth Dominion. Not the high born who plot and spill blood. Not the low born who serve with one eye to the sky and the other glancing back.

Young Scorpius is fetched from the estate nursery, once raised to live among the nobility – claimed finally not by his family, but by a falconer to serve as his apprentice.

Scorpius soon learns that a noble hides his monstrous appetites beneath velvet and jewels, while the leathery-winged dragon is honest about his own. His master does his best to shield Scorpius from the world outside their cottage, but the falconer is merely a servant who must obey his own masters.

An attempt on the life of a young lord while on a hunt sends the falconer’s apprentice on an abruptly different path, bringing Scorpius into the service of the House of Pruzhnino. Court intrigue sinks its talons into everyone, even Scorpius–especially a former falconer’s apprentice once raised to be a lord in his own right.


Here’s the book trailer:


Here’s the book cover:

Far away and other stories…

Today, my Mom goes through eye surgery to stop her from losing her eyesight.  Her retina is trying to detach.

While I know that my relationship with her can be a challenge I am completely aware that if she had asked for me to be there I would.  She’s well taken care of living in the same neighbourhood as her sisters and has lots of help coming her way.

So, I’ve sent flowers for a few days afterwards while I wait for the surgery to be over today so that I can call to see how she’s done.

In retrospect, my business trip to Montreal last week marked by the evening student protests, a few explosions and a lot of sirens seems trivial.  You only get one set of eyes.

I’m sure though as we see our parents age there will be more instances where her ability to be so independent is compromised.

Her mother, however, my grandmother was living with my Aunt Pat until she was 104 and was fiercely independent.

Guess it’s in the genes.

Book Trailers that I enjoy!

Producing Book Trailers with Director/Writer Julia Phillips Smith has turned into a joy sometimes forgotten when on a corporate set.  Julia is not only a great director but a friend and watching her publish her books throughout adversity is a great lesson to learn.  With the support of her family in the wee hours of the morning we create a great set together that could not be done otherwise.  So, to all of Julia’s supporters I say thank you from my heart.  Also, Caroline Ruyle adapted her training with Steve Richard to make the shots work which shows not only training received but talent at work.  Bobby Rossong gave us what we needed quickly and without complaint – also a talented actor.

Special thank you to Best Shorts Competition for their Award of Merit on Saint Sanguinus 1.

Today on my blog, I am reviewing book trailers.  I hope you watch them play through and enjoy the ones I’ve picked.  If you search You Tube with a book title you may find what you need to download on an ereader or go to your bookstore and pick up the book.  Book trailers are a great add to an author’s Amazon Page or You Tube Channel to gain reach with an audience.

Check out along with You Tube.

Author Maggie Toussaint.  Http://
No Second Chance Book Trailer is found at:
This trailer has a great overlay with the horses and is simple yet to the point.  All the info on who she is can be found at the end with the publisher info as well.  Right away the text gives us the info without revealing images of what the characters might look like.

Author Mary Jo Putney.  Http://
This historical author shows us intrigue in just a few actor moves.  I love the ending!
Nowhere near respectable is found at:

Author Julianne Maclean.  Http://
For the videos:
The In My Wildest Fantasies book trailer is my favourite.  Passion right off the start.  Candlelight, roses… and then…  comedy!  This trailer may be from 2007 but I still hold it close to my heart.

Author Babette James.  Http://
Clear As Day is found at:
I love summer love stories (reminding me of my own experiences with a pang)!  This book trailer is bright and cheerful in all the right places and then gives us hints of character development towards the end.  Here, images of people, heighten the emotion without giving us an actor to hang onto when we want to read the book.

Author Julia Phillips Smith.  Http://
Saint Sanguinus has two trailers found on You Tube at:
I’m partial to these trailers having produced them but I can safely say this was a great time making them.  The production value was high on these two but completely worth it for the author.  How else can you re-create Wales of long ago when you live in Canada?

Chloe Jacobs: Greta and the Goblin King

I am pleased to introduce to Nova Scotia: Chloe Jacobs!  Her book releases November 13th, 2012.

Author Background:

Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she’d at least gotten a female cat. No such luck. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers.








While trying to save her brother four years ago, Greta was thrown into the witch’s fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon.

To survive, seventeen-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…



Barnes and Noble pre-order:

Additional links:




Western Caribbean, Ft Lauderdale and New Orleans jumbalaya trip!

First of all, I want to thank Haley Bradbury at Cruise Holidays for organizing my entire trip. Her expertise and connections around the Globe helped me pick Celebrity as a cruise line. I was not disappointed.


My trip began on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I went a day ahead of the Celebrity Solstice leaving the Port Everglades so that I would have plenty of time to go through the Embarkation process. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express that was across the street from Starbucks and down the road had plenty of retail stores and restaurants on 17th. The next day, I had transportation by Carey Transport International to the Celebrity Solstice. Carey is very professional and always on time as this trip has proven. Another great recommendation by Haley.


I had decided on this cruise, my second cruise ever, that I would be a part of Aqua Class on Celebrity. What this meant is the entire experience was improved and enhanced my numerous points of detail. There was no line up for me when I checked in at the Port – I was straight on the cruise and sipping a Mimosa provided as a welcome on board within 40 mins of arrival. The staterooms were ready 2.5 hours later which is not unusual and what a stateroom it was (see pic). I had fresh fruit and canapes every day plus free bottled water. My stateroom attendant David He was chatty and determined to talk to me every morning and evening in case I needed anything. He told me that my first name means Star in India.


The first night a huge bottle of Champagne was in my room that I sipped as the cruise left Ft. Lauderdale on my private glass balcony. I was in heaven. Not only was it warm in temperature but I had walk in access to the Aqua class restaurant Blu and immediate access to the Persian Gardens where you could lay on heated chairs and meditate after a steam room experience. The Spa was amazing. I decided to have Chinese Acupuncture treatment by Allison while I worked out in their fitness club. My body said thank you by deep sleep every night. I soon learned, however, that I felt too dizzy from the movement of the ship to stay on a treadmill but could handle the elliptical trainers no problem thanks to PT Elise Ioannou from Cypress. I’ve entered an Algae bath detox spa program and can feel the results physically already. However, in the Spa I was told my the Irish Spa Director that I was named after the Tara Stone in Ireland.


Then, I met a group from the southern states on an excursion that told me I was named after the plantation in Gone with the Wind.


Despite all of them being correct and I didn’t mention the other meanings to any of them we had a great time. Eating supper by myself is not unusual if I go to a restaurant but at Blu couples to my right and left quickly engaged me in conversation as we all enjoyed the organic food. The wine steward quickly learned what type of palette I have for dry wine and recommended new wines every night. Thanks to the pre-bought wine package I could enjoy wines up to $12 a glass.


I fell in love with Grand Cayman. I may never go back to Mexico even though we visited an island (Cozumel) it’s just not my cup of tea. And we visited Roatan but never made it to Costa Maya due to high wind not letting us into the docking area and officials closing it down.


For 7 days I had the most amazing vacation and great weather.


I then stayed in Fort Lauderdale for a few days and I have to say the Sheraton let me down a bit by placing me in a room that smelled like mold. They are right by the ocean however and have 2 pools. Still, I didn’t stay in my room much as when I complained they came in and aerosoled the air conditioning unit so that it smelled like Lysol every day in my room. The Holiday Inn that I stayed at previously had no such problem.


Next – Fantasy on the Bayou the RWA FF&P Sub-chapter conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’m not going to lie. The conference’s keynote speaker Maggie Shaye had us all shedding tears at her personal story and triumphant rise to publication after 4 years of rejection. She started on a typewriter that had no “e” key and had to fill them in plus cut and paste corrections with scissors and paper. She had an agent that was forcibly removed from being an agent by her native state due to shady dealings and yet all of this did not stop her from giving up hope or stop writing. She said “I hope this conference is for you what hearing the words “you did it baby” did for me.”


And guess what. It has been. I have one full request and 3 partials. Even if they all say no this has been an experience I was not prepared for. I was prepared for no. I was not prepared for yes. This is the first step in becoming a published writer by traditional means. I have a contract with Dellarte Press on a book I’ve been working on for 2 years (my epic adventure romance) which forced me to re-join the RWAC writers group and take part in Nanowrimo plus writing retreats. But, this… this conference has made me realize that it is possible with perseverance it is possible that your manuscript will be a novel one day.


I finished my New Orleans visit by walking around and then taking the New Orleans Movie Tour with Jonathan Ray who has worked on numerous sets. What a great tour! We got to see location sites from the van and saw movie clips showing us these locations in the films. We also munched on popcorn and bottled water as we were quizzed on movie trivia and who was in Hollywood South this month. We saw Brad Pitt’s house, Nicholas Cage’s burial site, Sandra Bullock’s house, John Goodman’s house and Anne Rice’s house along the way as well. With a 30% tax incentive New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are hopping with films.

I also met Nancy Knight who organizes Dragon Con each year and is an agent herself.  I sat with her during the amazing supper the FF&P organizers had for us at the Marriott New Orleans (lobster, snapper, turdunken, prime rib, pasta, dessert, tea, coffee…).  Please check out for more details.

Maggie Shayne Keynote Speaker FF&P Conference in New Orleans

Aqua Stateroom on Celebrity Solstice

Anne Rice House on New Orleans Movie Tour